Haarlem – 1562/3 – 1640

Hendrick Cornelisz Vroom pioneered marine painting as a specialist genre as the Dutch rose to become a leading maritime power.


Hendrick Cornelisz Vroom, was born in Haarlem in 1566 as the son of the sculptor and ceramist Cornelis Hendricksen.

He started out as a painter of Delftware, and as a member of artistic family he undoubtedly received theoretical as well as practical training. He travelled, then significantly in Spain, Italy, France and Poland. While he was in Italy Vroom became acquainted with the painter Paulus Bril, who encouraged him to start painting and gave him lessons. Between 1585 and 1587 he was in the service of Cardinal Ferdinand de’ Medici. His journey back to the Dutch Republic took him through Venice, Milan, Turin, Lyon, Paris and Rouen.

Back in Haarlem he married Joosgen Cornelisdr Gans and had two sons, Cornelis (c. 1590-1661) and Frederik (c. 1600-67), who both became painters.

Artistic Style and Influences

He painted historical battles, ships’ portraits and views of maritime towns like Hoorn, Amsterdam and Vlissingen. He also had extensive knowledge of building and equipping early seventeenth-century merchantmen and warships.

Hendrick Cornelisz Vroom is regarded as the father of marine painting and he pioneered the rendering of naval scenes and battles in a new style in which careful attention was paid to maritime detail and rigging. The young Vroom produced many landscapes as well as marine paintings.

His highly detailed depictions soon brought him fame, enabling him to ask very high prices for them.

An Enhuizer pinas in a storm surrounded by whales with a second ship right on the horizon ca. 1590

Oil on canvas, 103 x 103 cm.

Provenance: Possibly wine merchant Albert Martsz. Amsterdam 1615.   Haerlem’’; Netherlands, private collection.

Signed on the flag in the foremast: VROOM

The intensity of his light contrasts, the astonishingly convincing power of the long sweep of translucent waves with bubbling, crystalline accents in their crests, the depth suggested by the intense iridescent green of the water, all combine to form an awe- inspiring vision of the elemental power of the ocean.

Notable Works

Dutch and Spanish men-o-war in open seas

Oil on canvas, 125 x 255 cm

Signed on stern center right: VROOM

Dated: c. 1628

Provenance: Netherlands, Private collection, Amsterdam; on loan to the Westfries Museum, Hoorn, 1999-2011.

Formerly Rob Kattenburg Collection

Acquired by the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem USA

Notable Works

A Spanish galleon in action with two Dutch ships

Oil on panel, 42.5 x 64 cm

Signed in flag middle right: VROOM

Formerly Rob Kattenburg Collection

The main action in the picture is the encounter between a Dutch East Indiaman (left) and a Spanish galleon (right). We can still perceive the sail of a sinking ship above the surface of the water in front of the East Indiaman. A few Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch ships are visible in the distance. A Dutch shallop in the center foreground sails towards the Spanish galleon. The Dutch commander, with an orange, white and blue sash, stands upright in the shallop.

A Calm and Tempest
Oil on canvas, 98 x 183 cm
Signed: c. on 2nd flag: VROOM
Dated: r. c. on the 3rd flag: 1629
Provenance: France, Noble Collection
A pair
Both signed and dated: VROOM 1629

The Calm was on loan to the VOC exhibition in the National Archive, The Hague, (24.02.2017 till 24.06.2018). The painting was also on loan to the Royal library of Belgium, Brussels for the exposition ‘Breughel in black and white’. (14.10.2019 till 16.02.2020). The Tempest was on loan to the Singer Museum, Laren, for the exhibition ‘Weer en wind. Avercamp tot Willink’ (03.09.2019 till 05.01.20200

Vroom, A very rare pair of Seascapes, Calm and Tempest 2

Exhibitions and Collections

Exhibited: Tentoonstelling van Nederlandsche zee- en riviergezichten uit de XVIIde eeuw, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 1945-12-22 – 1946-02-03, p. 35; cat.nr. 71; Rotterdam, Kunsthal, Zoet & Zout – Water en de Nederlanders, 14 februari – 10 juni 2012.


Related Products

From 1592 he was active in Haarlem as a designer of tapestries and as the first Dutch specialist in the field of seascapes. In 1596 he designed the series of tapestries that the originally Brussels weaver François Spierincx had manufactured on behalf of Charles Howard in his new hometown of Delft.


Including the set engravings by John Pine, London 1739 (The Armada tapestries). Juxtaposed to the charts (tables) of Robert Adams, 1538, from which HENDRICK Cornelisz VROOM designed the tapestries for the House of Lords. The charts and corresponding tapestries describe the ‘Battle of the Armada’ in 10 incidents. 

The Tapestry Hangings of the House of Lords: representing the several Engagements between the English and Spanish Fleets, in the ever memorable Year MDLXXXVIII (1588), with the portraits of the Lord High-Admiral and the other noble Commanders, taken from the Life.

Atlas folio
Dated: 1739
Published in London by John Pine, June 24, 1739, According to Act of Parliament
First edition
Height: 522 millimetres (approx. page size); Width: 368 millimetres (approx. page size)
Atlas Folio with letterpress text and engraved and etched illustration plates, the tapestry plates printed in black and green ink, some of the charts with hand-colouring.
Provenance: Italy, private collection

Further Reading and Resources

– L.B. Bol, Die Holländische Marinemalerei des 17. Jahrhunderts. Braunschweig 1974. – Concise Catalogue of Oil Paintings in the National Maritime Museum London, exhib.cat. National Maritime Museum. Woodbridge: The antique Collectors’ Club Ltd. 1988.
– L.O. Goedde, Tempest and shipwreck in Dutch and Flemish art: convention, rhetoric, and interpretation, London 1989.
– M. Russell, Visions of the Sea. Hendrick C. Vroom and the origins of Dutch marine painting, Leiden 1983, pp. 114-115, ill. 116;
– J. Giltaij & J. Kelch. Lof der Zeevaart, De Hollandse zeeschilders van de 17e eeuw. Museum Boymans van Beuningen Rotterdam/ Gemäldegalerie Berlin, 1996-97.
– J. Gaschke, (ed.), Turmoil and tranquility. The sea through the eyes of Dutch and Flemish masters, 1550-1700, Greenwich 2008.
– C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue raisonné of the Works of the most eminent Dutch painters of the seventeenth century. Based on the work of John Smith. London 1923. (3) Vol. 1 t/m 10. (Reprint, Cambridge: University Press 1993.)
– F.W.H. Holstein, Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts ca 1400-1700, Vol. XLIX, 1976.
– A. Houbraken, De Groote Schouburgh der Nederlantsche Konstschilders en Schilderessen. Vol. I-III, 1718-1721. B.M Israël BV Amsterdam 1976.
– G.S. Keyes, exhibit. cat. Mirror of Empire, Dutch Marine Art of the Seventeenth Century. Cambridge: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge 1990.
– N Köhler (ed., P. Biesboer…et.al, Paintings in Haarlem 1500-1850. The collection of the Frans Hals Museum, Ludion Ghent/Frans Hals Museum Haarlem, 2006.
– C. van Mander, Het schilder-boeck. Haarlem 1604.
– R. Preston, The Seventeenth Century Marine Painters of the Netherlands. Leigh-on-Sea, 1974.
– M. Russel, Visions of the Sea. Hendrik C. Vroom and the Origins of Dutch marine painting. Leiden 1983.
– F.C. Willis, Die Niederländische Marinemalerei. Leipzig 1911.


The nestor of marine painting

Hendrick Cornelisz Vroom, the ‘father of Dutch marine painting, the first ship portraitist, and the most important marine painter of the first quarter of the seventeenth century.
Vroom’s reputation as the founder of Dutch marine art. Bol’s sensitive reassessment of Vroom’s place as the Nestor of this genre was the first serious recent attempt to recognize Vroom on his own terms Hendrick Vroom’s greatest talent rests with his ability as the chronicler of significant to portray ships and capture the dramatic import of his subjects, whether the ships be participants in significant historic events or exponents pitted against the elemental forces of nature.
Through this pillar page, we hope to have provided you with a comprehensive insight into the life, influences, and remarkable creations of this marvellous painter.